MEDFORD, Ore. — A bill that would help bring fresh local produce into school cafeterias sits at the governor’s desk awaiting his approval. It would be a continuation of a program that has been around for a few years in the Rogue Valley.
The peppers, eggplant and tomatoes are far from their harvest date at Fry Family Farms in Central Point. But soon enough some of the produce grown here could end up on your child’s tray at their school’s cafeteria.
“Anytime you have an opportunity to sell more product in different directions it is always great and selling to schools is totally awesome,” says co-owner of Fry Family Farms, Steve Fry. “We’re an organic farm here, so they know they’re getting a good, clean product.”
A bill that would continue funding for a “Farms to Schools” program has made its way through both the House and Senate. If the governor signs it, the bill would allow for incentives for schools to buy local. Students in the Farms to Schools program also take field trips to see where exactly their fruits and vegetables come from.
“It’s not processed in any way, so it’s good, wholesome, healthy food,” Fry explains. “It’s from right here and they can come out and see it.”
The program has been around for about five years in Southern Oregon and “Rogue Valley Farms to Schools” Executive Director Tracy Harding says she’s glad to see people getting behind the program, “What has passed is a bill for $500,000 which would create a competitive grant funded program much like the pilot program that is just closing.”
Harding says the funding would be spread over two school years and additional funding would be a big help, “We would like to ask that there would be support for this in the end of year appropriations for another $500,000 to actually see an increase.”
Fry says extra resources would help smooth things out for all involved, “Giving the employees who have to prep this stuff more time to do it.”